Top of the World 2005 

Seen from beyond the Earth, the Top of the World is not necessarily where we usually situate it. It can even be reached by car — and it conveys an insight.

When producing works of art, the artist judges a piece’s themes from a point of view that is charateristical to the artist’s beliefs and to the perspective which he takes on things. In many cases, this point of view is set outside the system the piece is about. Besides criticising given facts, an outside point of view gives a perspective onto things that is free from preoccupation and theme-inherent perception.

In the case of «Top of the World» (and also «West Pole» and «The Earth turns without me»), the point of view is situated outside of our planet, and the artist looks upon the Earth like an alien traveller arriving from another star.

The planet’s features and its relations to the other celestial bodies in the solar system are observed as if seen from beyond, and redefined. Travels are undertaken to reach these points.

If we were to come to Earth from another star, we would find it orbiting the Sun on the same plane as the other planets. This plane, known as the ecliptic, would help us get our bearings in space and determine which way is up.

Viewed in this light, the highest point on Earth is neither on the summit of Mount Everest nor at one of the poles. Instead, it circles the Earth along the Arctic Circle, moving in the opposite direction to the Earth’s rotation.

Once a day, every point on the Arctic Circle will be farthest from the ecliptic. We planned to be there, in Swedish Lapland, at N 66° 33.230’ W 19° 45.970’, at the Top of the World.

But to reach the Top of the World meant not only traveling to the right place, but also arriving at the right time, at the moment the Sun reaches the highest point on its apparent trajectory across the sky.

Which was at 13:44 UTC+1.

Meanwhile, the Top of the World was moving fast, as it does all the time. At 664.5 km/h. And we were to rendezvous with it in less than one and a half hour.

As we approached, we felt the Earth arch away from us on all four sides.

We were running out of time.

We arrived just in time, and without anyone noticing it, became the people at the highest point on Earth.

In the referential system defined by the ecliptic, we were on Top of the World. But the curvature of the Earth we had noticed during the drive stemmed from our individual system of reference, which in turn is defined by each person’s vertical on what is a spherical planet.

It follows that our position on Earth is always at the top—at least if measured by our own individual system of reference.

All the time and everywhere, each of us — including you, dear reader — is at the Top of the World.11—In [?fig. 10?], my companion stands 0.90m away from the vertical axis of my own individual system of reference. Although he is actually 8?cm taller than I am, he is standing 0.000000078231096?mm below me.

   Copyright ©1999—2019 by Christian Waldvogel —— All works courtesy the artist —— Website 1998–2013 —— Get in touch: hochnebel(g)